…Ibadan, Nigeria, 14.20hrs. The sun was shining with a vengeance like there had been a misunderstanding with the clouds or some galaxial sky-mate that fateful Friday afternoon. I managed to catch a bike eventually, only to get stuck in traffic moments later. Why? The Muslims were praying; their own space wasn’t enough and so they blocked the entire main market road. I mean the entire main road with their mats. I was livid. Whatever happened to fundamental human rights! Blocking an entire ever-busy thoroughfare in the 21st Century?
Minutes later, I was grateful to feel the cool breeze as I entered my bank with one mission: to collect my ATM card and escape. The queue was discouraging but envisaged. It got to my turn after what seemed like ages, only to be told by the Customer Service Personnel (most comported I’ve ever met by the way) that my card was being ‘pouched’ from Lagos (my eyes grew big in anger) What!? After a cash deduction from my account before it even expired and an application for its transfer to Ibadan spanning two months?! His explanations fell on deaf ears.
I told myself to calm down as I walked away. I did not want to do anything unchristian. In my head, a dozen thoughts flew around. Why did I even choose this bank anyway? I knew the answer already. Aesthetics. The aesthetics bought me over. This bank had the most unique architecture, each branch dynamic, and it was all over the country. I just really liked the way the buildings were finely done.
On this day, however, the aesthetics meant nothing to me. I needed money for the weekend and I had to join another long queue for an over-the-counter withdrawal. I was upset. I was hoping the security man handing withdrawal sheets to people would ask me why I didn’t use the ATM machine outside so I’d give him a piece of my mind, but he didn’t. Everyone seemed nice.
With no one to pour the annoyance on, I decided to distract myself. I began observing my environment. I wondered if banking halls around the world had these issues too. I watched as people raised their hands in surrender as the metal-detecting door determined the fate (to enter or not). The man behind me was too close for comfort and when I turned to look at him, he let out a gasp. He seemed tired. His breath was as if someone forgot to seal a septic tank; it stunk like a soak-away pit or a badly flushed toilet and I’m not exaggerating. I turned quickly and faced my front, hoping he keeps his mouth shut. But no, he didn’t.
Looking for more distractions, I sighted a tall, young man ahead of me. He was chubby. He chose the wrong day to show the ‘world’ his ugly boxers. I should have minded my business, but not that day!
So, instead of giving him a piece of my mind, for civility sake, I simply gave him ‘the look.’ I stared at him with a raised eyebrow, allowing my eyes to travel knowingly from his face to the exposed underwear, just the way the elders back in the days would stare at you without a word and you’d get the message, that you’re messing up and in trouble whether or not you know what you did. I almost chuckled at his confused look and shuffling feet.
Well, he got the message after all, because minutes later, I had no ‘boxer-cinema’ blocking my view. More customers had joined the queue, some left in annoyance, our queue was getting closer to the counter, we all wanted money. One girl had the biggest and most awkward earring I’d ever seen. It looked like a handcuff with spikes. I was determined to take a picture of it, so I feigned a call, turning the camera eye in her direction and click! Click!! I stylishly took a picture.
Everyone wore a long face, both customers and the bank staff. They seemed to have the ‘not-so-attractive’ staff in front and the ‘eye-candies’ behind. To help their plight however (as they were clearly stressed) I thought about making a suggestion to them or simply writing a note behind the withdrawal slip. It would read,
“Dear staff, why not borrow a leaf from ASUU and declare a workers’ strike so the management would deem it fit to open more branches in Ibadan and save us all this trauma. Think about it seriously. Yours truly, Annoyed Customer.”
I didn’t eventually write the note because I had no pen with me but I resolved to take a picture of the banking-hall quandary. And that I did.
This is a true picture of life today. Like that banking hall, life is a quandary. We are all on a journey, sometimes confusing, yes! Traumatic, depressing, time-consuming. Some people get tired of the process and break-off mid-stream…but you, you must keep your eye on the goal. In the banking hall our goal was the money, but in real life our goal is eternity with God.
Are you in the Banking-hall of Life? One way in; one way out. Choose your course. Whatever happens, do not miss your goal.